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Cubanismo: Mardi Gras Mambo

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Cubanismo mingles New Orleans brass bands with its Caribbean heritage. The links between Afro-Cubans and black Crescent City culture goes back to colonial times, but musically it wasn’t until the turn of the last century that they met when colored municipal bands from Havana played in New Orleans and vice versa. It was these ensembles that brought habanero beats to the mix, which made up the Spanish tinge that Jelly Roll Morton considered so crucial to jazz feeling.

Headed by trumpeter Jesus Alemany, this all-star group featuring legendary sonero (singer) Rolo Martinez spent 10 days in New Orleans rekindling that spirit by connecting with an equally distinguished cast of jazz and rhythm & blues stalwarts, featuring John Boutte and the Yockamo All-Stars. It’s a roller coaster of transcultural ideas in old and new bottles, like the Ernie K. Doe hit “Mother-in-Law” that begins as a boogaloo but slips into a straight-ahead cha-cha-cha before spinning back. It’s the twists, turns and infectious beats that keep the album grooving.

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